zelda_queen: (Spork)
[personal profile] zelda_queen
ZeldaQueen: We last left off with Zoey packing very inadequately to leave home forever and hearing her stepfather calling for her. Want to guess how this is going to turn out?

Ruin: About as well as a kid coming out to his super-conservative parents?

ZeldaQueen: I think you’re being optimistic. Although that comparison will be biting our asses later.

Chapter 3

So we get our very first taste of Zoey’s stepdad, and I’m sorry for dropping such a large quote on you guys, but it simply can’t be summarized.

At first glance my step-loser, John Heifer, appears to be an okay guy, even normal. (Yes, that's really his last name—and, sadly, it is also now my mom's last name. She's Mrs. Heifer. Can you believe it?) When he and my mom started dating I actually overheard some of my mom's friends calling him "handsome" and "charming." At first. Of course now Mom has a whole new group of friends, ones Mr. Handsome and Charming thinks are more appropriate than the group of fun single women she used to hang with.

I never liked him. Really. I'm not just saying that because I can't stand him now. From the first day I met him I saw only one thing—a fake. He fakes being a nice guy. He fakes being a good husband. He even fakes being a good father.

He looks like every other dad-age guy. He has dark hair, skinny chicken legs, and is getting a gut. His eyes are like his soul, a washed-out, cold, brownish color.


ZeldaQueen: Let’s kick off with some counts!

Tired Metaphor: 11 (His soul’s a washed-out brown? Really?)

Stereotypes Mambo: 16 (Of course the asshole parent has an unsubtle name like “Heifer”! Really, how do the Cast ladies come up with these clever jokes?)

My Deux Ex Machina Sense Are Tingling: 1 (Not as blatant as it will be later, but how convenient that she just happened to be the only one to see how fake he was?)

Now. *steeples fingers* What to say to that? Want to start, Ruin?

Ruin: Well, typically unflattering description aside, Mr Heffer is supposed to represent everything the modern day feminist-inclined woman should abhor. He pretends to be everything a woman should want - a charming lover, a good father to her children, an attentive and considerate (I’m assuming) husband who provides a steady and comfortable income by serving his community, a (quote) ‘nice guy’ (unquote).
However, he is - on Zoey’s word - a dishonest man, an unjust father (by which I mean, he treats them differently based on who happens to have his grace), a controlling husband who dictates his wife’s life inside and outside of the home as though she is his property.

As he is an outspokenly spiritual man, it’s obvious that this representation of a misogynistic stepfather and second husband is supposed to represent the Patriarchal nature of American Christianity in the Bible Belt. Speaking as a brought-up-Methodist Brit, this is how I see Mr Heffer.

ZeldaQueen: You’re right about that. Mr. Heffer is virtually a parody of that sort of character, in fact. It’s pretty obvious that he’s supposed to be every single thing that the Cast ladies are warning their female readers against getting involved with.

The trouble is, it’s nigh impossible to take this guy seriously. Just look at how he’s presented to us. Zoey just tells us, in the same whiny tone as usual, that she hates him and calls him “step-loser” and he’s such a jerk, man! That doesn’t sound like she’s legitimately upset. It reminds me of how Anna talked about her stepfather-to-be in the Freaky Friday remake. The difference there was that part of Anna’s character development was learning to understand people beyond how they inconvenienced her. Yes she was upset that her mom was remarrying, but she failed to see that her mom’s fiance genuinely was trying to be friends with her. The end of the movie shows her understanding that and accepting him. Given that Zoey sounds almost exactly like early movie!Anna, it gives the impression that this is the same way as what I mentioned before - that Zoey’s family life isn’t really that bad, but she just thinks it is because everything doesn’t go her way. And given how the Cast ladies have her stepfather act later, I know that’s definitely not what they intended.

Like we said about her siblings though, how does she know he’s fake? This is something that could easily be shown. The Cast ladies could show him grossly misinterpreting some sort of Biblical text. They could show Zoey trying to argue with him, like, “Jesus told us this!” and he tries to shut her down and proves that he doesn’t care about that. They could show us that there are stacks of unpaid bills because he keeps insisting the family buy things they can’t afford, just to make them look like the Perfect Family. Instead, he’s such a strawman that a good gust of wind could knock him over!

And for that matter, he fakes being a good husband and father. Tell me, how does he do that? One could argue he does it for the siblings by letting them do whatever they want, but we already pointed out how that makes zero sense. Not to mention, we see no evidence that he tries the same with Zoey. It would just take one line to have her mention that he tried bribing her into good behavior and resented her when she saw through it, but we get none of that. As for being a good husband, this is where skipping development hurts the story. I could find it believable that he started out being a kind man to Zoey’s mom, only to gradually separate her from her friends and convince her that the things he thought she should do were best and get her to the point where she believes he knows best and does what he wants - but that needs to be shown! Really, this would have worked much better if Zoey’s mom were just engaged to him. It would be a good way to show him still faking being kind, while showing hints of what a prick he really is.

Finally, his appearance. If it’s not obvious by now, I’m pretty sure the Cast ladies are simply incapable of writing a bad guy who isn’t ugly or at least described in the most unflattering way possible. I mean, really? “He looks like every other dad-age guy”? I’m sure the countless men in their 30s to 50s really appreciate that, Zoey! I know my dad, who is plenty active, has no gut, is in his 50s, and has eyes that are sans washed-out soul, certainly would! Not to mention, take a look, if you will, at these gentlemen.



ZeldaQueen: That’s Matt Damon, with his kids. Did you know that he’s a stepfather to one of his daughters? He’s also in his forties.



ZeldaQueen: That’s Johnny Depp with his (former) wife and daughter. I’m sure you know Johnny Depp. Did you also know that he’s over 50 years old? That’s a bit difficult to guess, huh?



ZeldaQueen: And there’s Brad Pitt with Angelina Jolie and their many children. And yes, he’s stepfather to three of them. And he’s also over fifty.

Ruin: Indeed, and nothing like my own father: 5’-5’4’’ tall; short legs; stocky figure; strawberry blond curls; hazel-eyed; frighteningly reluctant to don a kilt and sporran for special occasions to the point of irrational life-threatening anger; may have single-handedly ‘acquired’ every one of the twenty-odd cats that had sauntered through my childhood home from neighbouring areas. He became a father aged 16, has humped-and-dumped his way down the British Isles, and may be a non-contact father to more than twelve children. Also currently over fifty. (As a point of reference, I am only 20 years old).

ZeldaQueen: So yeah, Cast ladies? Have him have a beer gut and chicken legs if you want. Don’t go around saying how that’s how most men his age look. It’s rather insulting and makes Zoey look like a judgmental twit. Which, actually, she is.

Miss Judgmental: 34

So! We now know the… uh, important things about this guy, so let’s actually meet him! Zoey heads out to the living room to find her stepfather standing there. Her mother is already sobbing and Zoey complains that, “
She was going to play Hurt Hysterical Mother. It's an act she does well”.

*glares* Shut up. Just shut up, you vapid moron.

Ruin: Zoey, go spout to someone who has no idea what domestic upheaval is.

ZeldaQueen: I’m sorry, but that hit close to home for me. I’m a pretty anxious person at times, and the idea of someone being upset with me can really freak me out. If I know people are angry with me, or if I even think they are, it can drive me to a really depressed state. And depending on how upset I am or what the situation is, it can make me break down crying. A lot. And I’m seriously lucky. The people who I know actually care about me.

This is not the case here. It’s made incredibly clear that Heffer does not actually care about the wellbeing of his wife or mind if he hurts her. The things Zoey has said he does are textbook cases of emotional abuse. I can only imagine how nerve-wracking it is to live with someone who’s constantly getting angry with you for things that aren’t your fault. Zoey’s mom no doubt had to steel herself to tell the stepdad about this. She would have known he would have been furious and probably would do something to Zoey - her daughter, who we’re told she was once very close to. She can’t do anything to protect Zoey and, in all likelihood, she’ll be pressured into turning against her.

That sort of thing is incredibly nerve-wracking. It’s not easy to be with someone who flies off the handle at the slightest thing. It’s horrible being with someone who gets angry with you for things you can’t control. And nobody - nobody - ever considers this. I’m serious, folks. Everyone, from Zoey to her grandmother to the fans themselves consider Zoey’s mom to be a lost cause (case in point, someone on this page notes of Zoey’s mom, “
I disliked Zoey's mother even more [than John Heffer] because she let John control her.”).

Ruin: That they consider her such a ‘lost cause’ actually seems very defeatist to me, and certainly not fair. I’ve seen my own mother suffer this sort of controlling, possessive relationship abuse at the hands of Sasquatch up there, and I’ve also seen her come out blossoming out on the other side as a free and liberated person with her life back.

ZeldaQueen: It really is disgusting. But we’ll be going into more detail on it in later books, like Chosen. For now, let us just slap Zoey with another Miss Judgmental point.

Miss Judgmental: 35

Heffer takes one look at Zoey, sees her mark, and shouts, “
Get thee behind me, Satan!”. As a head’s up, yes, in-universe, people do take him seriously. Also, that Biblical quotation is used incorrectly. It was said by Jesus in response to Satan tempting him with power, so it would only be appropriate if Zoey were tempting her stepfather with something (or, though it’s a bit of a stretch, trying to convince him that being a vampire isn’t bad). I could understand this being intentional to show that he’s a bad Christian, except (A) he’s a very high-profile member of the church, so someone’s going to notice if he keeps screwing up his own beliefs and (B) nobody ever calls him out on it, making me think it’s accidental.

Zoey tells Heffer that she’s not Satan, and her mom tells her not to be sarcastic. That’s...really not sarcasm. It would be more appropriate if Zoey’s response was something like, “In the flesh!” Heffer assures Zoey’s mom that he has everything under control, and then tells Zoey, “
I told you that your bad behavior and your attitude problem would catch up with you. I'm not even surprised it happened this soon”.

Ruin: Ooh, ooh, don’t tell me! “This is a sign that the Devil has his hooks in ya; your bad behaviour’s just been the precursor for what we’ve known all along!” How many times have we heard the same said about being LGBT?

ZeldaQueen: Surprisingly, the Cast ladies don’t take it in that direction. Instead, they have this be a lame parallel to how uber-religious people ignore science and medicine. Zoey proceeds to get all “Woe is me” because her stepfather doesn’t believe that there is a scientific reason behind people turning into vampires. First of all, neither do I. I don’t care what bullshit pseudoscience we’re given, you’re going to have one hell of a time convincing anyone that pheromones and junk DNA cause people to grow tattoos. Second of all, why is she so dismayed that he is being so ignorant? By this point, it’s blindingly obvious that he’s an asshole who has no clue what he’s talking about. Why would you even care what someone like that thinks? That’s like if I took it personally when I heard some drunk on the sidewalk yelling about how fluoride treatments are done strictly for mind-controlling purposes!

Oh, and we also find out that scientists have no clue what causes people to change into vampires or how to cure/prevent it. This is the only mention we ever get of that. You’d think it’d be a bigger deal, considering that turning into a vampire puts the lives of kids at risk, but nope!

Ruin: Scientists attempting to work out the cause of vampirism so they can possibly find an ANTI-VAMPIRE VACCINE or even a CURE?! Considering the themes of faith, ‘magick’, and free-thinking free will, not to mention the decades LGBT+ Americans have suffered under conversion therapies - a horror building to a hopeful anticlimactic end with Leelah’s Law (R.I.P) - shouldn’t the scientists have been the villains here? The opportunity the Cast ladies have missed here is just IMMENSE.

A minute of silence for what could have been, if you please!

ZeldaQueen: I think it’s just a result of the series shifting genres. The first book has them at least pretend there’s some scientific basis to the process. After that though, just about everything is magic. A vampire can control the elements? Goddess did it. A vampire can summon spirits? Goddess let them. A vampire unearthed an ancient fallen angel-thing from the center of the Earth? Raven Mockers are wandering around? Greek deities are on Earth, interacting with us? Yeeeeah, the way the scientific elements fit in suddenly make no sense. Which, I might add, makes it fucking rich for Zoey here to roll her eyes over Heffer thinking that there’s a non-scientific explanation for what’s going on.

AU Doesn’t Work Like That: 5

And like I said, I really don’t think this was meant to be a jab at curing homosexuality, so much as a jab at people who think that vaccines are teh evils and that the best way to cure sick people is to use various homemade remedies instead of taking them to an actual doctor, because those evil doctors and scientists are in a Conspiracy with the big bad pharmaceutical company and just are covering up how alternative medicine can cure every disease ever because that means they won’t make money. Yes, there are people who think that. I used to be a member of the forums for Museum of Hoaxes (a fine website, incidentally. Do check it out if you get the chance) and we’d routinely get morons showing up and claiming to have ironclad evidence that whatever alternative medicine they were promoting totally worked and would be revealed as soon as they worked around getting it published online. And yes, I’m sure that if there was some miraculous biological process that let people turn into vampires, there’d be people who’d insist that it was some punishment or something (although considering that it’s vampires we’re talking about, I don’t think “it’s some divine thing!” is the most illogical conclusion one could have). But I have the same problem with this that I have of Heffer’s position in his group, and I’ll be addressing that in a bit.

(And to all Viewers out there, I’m sure you all know information about the controversies I mentioned. Do keep in mind, our focus here is on the terrible story and not debates and criticisms of doctors or scientists or pharmaceutical companies. None of that, please. I mean it.)

Zoey once again tries to explain that her turning into a vampire had nothing to do with her behavior, and he insists that scientists aren’t “
men of God” and thus know nothing. This, again, leaves Zoey speechless for some reason. Again, I have no clue why. Has she not been listening to him before now, or has he seriously never said anything like this before? I find it hard to believe it’s the latter.

I’d also like to ask, if Heffer is so anti-science, why does he send his kids to a public school? I know he’s supposed to be obsessed with pretending to have a perfect family, but if he’s standing here dissing science as a whole, why would he want his stepkids at a public school that teaches it? Why doesn’t he try to get them tutors who’d teach what he thinks they should learn?

Ruin: Surely, if he has such a community pull, he could build up a “Sunday School” wherein the children of his flock could be taught by tutors as a collective. Of course, this wouldn’t fit the whiney purposes of Zoey’s character establishment thus far.

ZeldaQueen: It would have given her something legitimately worth getting upset over, though! It would also make his control over the little brother especially alarming, since he’s still pretty young and presumably the most likely to be brainwashed.

Zoey goes on to explain how Heffer’s position works.

He was an Elder of the People of Faith, a position he was oh, so proud of. It was one of the reasons Mom had been attracted to him, and on a strictly logical level I could understand why. Being an Elder meant that a man was successful. He had the right job. A nice house. The perfect family. He was supposed to do the right things and believe the right way. On paper he should have been a great choice for her new husband and our father. Too bad the paper wouldn't have shown the full story. And now, predictably, he was going to play the Elder card and throw God in my face. I would bet my cool new Steve Madden flats that it irritated God as much as it annoyed me.

ZeldaQueen: And it’s time for another rant on how things don’t make sense.

Because we have precious little idea about how the world works, we have no idea what being an Elder in the People of Faith group means. We only hear about them in Tulsa, because this book treats being in Tulsa like it’s all there is to the planet. We have no clue if they’re global or just a local group.

If they’re a local group, how is being a high-ranking member such a great indicator of money and status? You’re the big fish in a group in a city in the midwest. Okay. So what? No offense to Tulsa, but it’s hardly the most important city we have! Do the People of Faith raise lots of money in some way? Are they prominent enough that they get lots of donations? I can’t believe they get grants of any kind, especially since they spend their time harassing vampires who, from what we see, are recognized officially as regular people.

To give an example, I’m going to note a real-life group which I’m pretty sure the people of Faith were based off of - the Westboro Baptist Church. They’re located in Topeka, Kansas, and basically operate on a platform of God Hates Everything and Everyone Except Us. Pretty much everyone else thinks they’re bastards and there are groups of people who dedicate their time to organizing counter-strikes to stand in front of them when they picket and block them from harassing others. Oh yeah, did I mention? The group goes all over to picket places. That costs a lot of money, right? How do they manage that? Well, most of them are lawyers. That’s how they get money. They have jobs other than being in a religious group. They also have very little influence. Sure they get around a lot, but they’re more or less limited to one family plus a handful of others. There are lots of people who’ve never heard of them. So being in a position of power in their group means zip-all to the rest of the community.

That being said, how does Heffer have power and money? We don’t hear about him having any other job. We don’t hear about him giving talks or writing a book or doing anything remotely marketable. We don’t hear about his group being popular enough that it could get money or support. And yet, somehow, he’s supposed to be a massive catch.

(Folks in Viewerland, same rule goes here. No ranting about the WBC. It’s easy to do, but we’re focusing on the story.)

Incidentally, this also makes Zoey’s mom look even more pitiable. She’s a single mom raising three kids and, from what we heard, had a truly crappy salesperson job before getting married. Given what Zoey just said, it sounds very likely that she married a horrible man just so she could support her kids.

Zoey decides to try again with getting through to him on this and the Cst ladies take the opportunity to throw in some rare worldbuilding. Unfortunately, as we see, it’s incredibly poor worldbuilding.

I tried again. ‘We studied this in AP biology. It's a physiological reaction that takes place in some teenagers' bodies as their hormone levels rise.’ I paused, thinking
really hard and totally proud of myself for remembering something I learned last semester. ‘In certain people the hormones trigger something-or-other in a…a…’ I thought harder and remembered: ‘a Junk DNA strand, which starts the whole Change.’ I smiled, not really at John, but because I was thrilled by my ability to recall stuff from a unit we'd been done with for months.




ZeldaQueen: Oh, Jesus Christ...

Ruin: Not this shit. Want to elaborate on this particular science fail? I don’t know where to begin.

ZeldaQueen: Well, probably the best way to start is with a comment emmram made back on my first sporking of this.

Ugh, I hate it when they try to drag science into stuff like this. I mean, I don't even understand how this vampyre mutation thing works. ’Junk DNA’ forms a large part of our genome that we don't know the function for yet. It doesn't code for any proteins. So, yeah, it'd be clever to ascribe a vampiric change to a random activation of one those sequences. Fine. Except, hormones? Teenage hormones? It'd sound more credible if she actually named the hormones. Does she mean gonadotrophins? If so, I've never heard of sudden hormone spikes causing a sudden alteration in DNA, but whatever. I don't know. It might happen.

And, uh. IIRC, she's getting progressively sick and will die unless she's at this House of Night place. What, they'll dose her up with something that'll help her out with her hormonal imbalance or something? And where does this Marking phenomenon come in anyway? It's clearly described as a supernatural event, and yet she says it's a physiological change brought about by hormones. What? I hope the book gets clearer on this.


ZeldaQueen: For those who don’t know, a physiological reaction is “an automatic instinctive unlearned reaction to a stimulus”. Examples on the linked page include things like burping, vomiting, blushing, blinking, and changes in the eyes to allow the retina to focus on something. All of those things are not learned. Our bodies do it automatically, because it serves a purpose. You don’t need to have something done to have your body remember, “Oh shit, the eyeballs are drying up! Better blink to moisten them!”

So to dumb down the explanation, Zoey just said that unnamed hormones will randomly rise in teenagers, which will somehow cause some strand of Junk DNA to activate, which somehow causes said teenagers to turn pale, be burned by sunlight, and GAIN THE ABILITY TO CONTROL THE ELEMENTS AND SEE THE FUTURE AND MANY OTHER CLEARLY SUPERNATURAL THINGS. DEAR GOD ALMIGHTY, DID THE CAST LADIES NEVER STOP AND WONDER HOW THIS WOULD WORK?

*FALLS OVER IN FURY*

Ruin: *Catches ZeldaQueen*

ZeldaQueen: Thanks, buddy. *gets to her feet* Lord, I know the X-Men franchise played merry buggery with genetics via the X-gene thing. God knows I realize that it’s not easy to explain how vampires and werewolves openly exist in modern day society without handwaving people wanting to figure out how they actually work.
But dear lord, they had the perfect out! If someone’s writing in the fantasy or sci-fi genre and can’t think of a way to explain something and the POV character is the sort who wouldn’t understand things, that’s a way to skip over it! One great example is the YA novel Dr. Franklin’s Island. In it, two girls are genetically transformed into animals. Because the narrator is an average teenage girl, she doesn’t understand the sciencey details they’re given about the process. All she knows is that something REALLY bad is happening to her, which is all the audience needs to know. The same with Harry Potter. The laws of how magic works are treated like the laws of physics, so Harry doesn’t bother paying attention/learning about how things really WORK, as long as he’s able to get what he needs done done.

The Cast ladies could have just had Zoey arguing with her stepdad and said something like, “Look, it has something to do with Junk DNA, we’re still figuring it out!” and then admitting that modern research really hasn’t come up with much. Because as we’re going to see, just about everything vampire-related IS CAUSED BY SUPERNATURAL SOURCES!!! I know Rowling has made mentions about genetics for wizards in interviews, but this would be like if the first book had Hagrid show up and say, “Yer a wizard, Harry! You have a mutation that kicked in when you were feelin’ stressed an’ scared an’ it has something to do with your mitochondria”, only to have the rest of the book treating magic like something that just happens.

(And yes, the HoN wiki does give a more...detailed explanation of this process. We’ll be sporking that directly when this book is finished.)

Heifer is, of course, less than impressed by Zoey’s bullshit of a scientific excuse and repeats that God is all-knowing and that goes beyond science and bluh-huh, she’s blasphemous. Dear lord, if I wanted a ridiculous religious parody, I’d read a Chick tract! Zoey insists that she was only trying to explain things to him, he says that he doesn’t need a teenager to explain anything to him, and she mentally replies that, “
Well, he was wearing those really bad pants and that awful shirt. Clearly he did need some things explained to him by a teenager, but I didn't think it was the right time to mention his unfortunate and obvious fashion impairment.

Yeah, clearly he needs fashion advice from a teenager. You mean like those many, many teenagers you made fun of because they were goth or punk or wore baggy pants or otherwise dressed in ways you didn’t approve of? Just say what you’re thinking, Zoey - you think he needs your fashion advice, because clearly you’re the one who knows how things should be run in the world.

Zoey’s mom chimes in at this point and asks whatever shall they tell the neighbors? Heifer says that they’ll give the problem to God. Not that they’re going to send Zoey to a convent as she suspects, but that they’re going to call someone named Dr. Asher. Like with most of the characters we’ve heard of thus far, we do not know a thing about him, nor will we ever so much as see him. This does not stop Zoey from informing us that he’s the family shrink and the “
Incredibly Expressionless Man”.

Miss Judgmental: 36

There are two things I’d like to bring up here.

The first is that Zoey’s slamming of Dr. Asher for being “expressionless” is damned stupid. He’s a therapist. While the issues a therapist helps someone with varies from person to person, it probably should go without saying that a calm demeanor works best overall. If you’re helping someone with depression or anxiety or someone working through a very upsetting issue, being loud or boisterous or hugely energetic is going to be counterproductive. It runs the risk of freaking the patient out, which is pretty much the exact opposite of why they’re seeing the therapist.

While I realize that there are therapists who unfortunately don’t end up being as helpful as they could be, Zoey’s judgmental ass doesn’t make it sound like that. It makes it sound like Dr. Asher is a perfectly fine therapist and she’s just whining because gawd, why would he think that keeping a low, even tone of voice and promoting a relaxing atmosphere would help foster a sense of comfort and help patients open up and talk about personal issues?

The second thing is why does the family have a therapist at all? We were just told that John Heifer was doing all in his power to make the family look happy and functional. We’re being told right now that he’s so determined to ignore hints that anything is wrong that he’s apparently fine with letting his stepdaughter cough up blood and die! If that’s the case, why would he arrange for the family to have a therapist? That would be admitting that they have issues and he doesn’t want that!

Ruin: I doubt the family therapist is public information. Maybe they have one to make their Stepford masquerade easier to handle?

ZeldaQueen: That still doesn’t make sense, though. Heifer’s being shown as the sort of person who ignores issues altogether and seems to think just giving his kids quick, easy solutions like video games is enough to keep them happy. I guess it doesn’t help that nobody thus far has consistent characterization. :/

Ruin: I’m surprised there’s a consistent setting, with this lack of brain activity.

ZeldaQueen: Considering how we never see Zoey’s home again, as far as I’m aware, we’re not going to be getting that for long.

So besides calling for Dr. Asher, Heifer says they should call the “
prayer phone tree” I’m guessing that’s supposed to be like the parent communication systems you hear about (never dealt with that myself, since my family didn’t really chill much with my classmates’ families and I didn’t go out much). Fun fact, though - I Googled “prayer tree”. Apparently those are a thing...but not like what the book has. Instead, it’s apparently a bit of a thing to make a fake tree and hang cards or notes with prayers on it. It looks like a fun craft, really.

Anyway, Zoey protests all of this (getting in a dig at the people on the prayer phone tree in the process) on the not unreasonable grounds that she has to get to the House of Night or she’s going to die. Her mom briefly looks like she’s going to help, only for her husband to put his arm around her shoulder. Despite Zoey even admitting that her mom looks sorry, the text continues to act like she’s a weak puppet who lacks the spine to stand up for her kids.

Zoey. Shut UP.

Zoey’s mom insist that it surely won’t cause trouble for her to stay home just one night, while Heifer says Dr. Asher should be able to make a house call. I…really doubt that can actually be done, but it doesn’t actually come to pass, so whatever! Zoey holds our hands and spells out for us that her stepdad doesn’t want to lose the appearance of being a happy family. Thanks, we really wouldn’t have figure that out on our own.

She finally decides that she needs to take care of matters on her own - took her long enough - and says that she’s just going to lie down while they do all of this. Her mom actually acts like a mom and offers to get her some Nyquil, and Zoey turns this down while “
wishing so damn hard that it was three years ago and she was still mine—still on my side”.



ZeldaQueen: I realize that saying that does work in the context of a loved one entering an abusive relationship and feeling like you lost them and that they’re now a different person. Given how Zoey has done nothing but treat her mom like a villain for her behavior, though? It sounds like Zoey’s being resentful that her mother remarried at all and that she now has to share her mother’s love with a new dad.

Again. This was done in the Freaky Friday remake. It was done better.

The chapter ends with Zoey going off to her room and telling herself that no matter how shitty her life gets, she’ll just remember this day and know that it’s better than being at home with her family.

You know, that sentiment kind of gets borked by the fact that the vampire world is such a Mary Sueopia, it’s not even funny.

Ruin: Not even Russell Howard could make this funny.

ZeldaQueen: The need to make this all a dead herring isn’t even necessary. Again, let us compare to Harry Potter. Harry lived with incredibly abusive relatives, so when he was told that he could go live at a school and learn magic, his response was “AWESOME!” I know vampires are generally associated with death and destruction and whatnot, but there are plenty of celebrity vampires in the world, so Zoey ought to know that turning into one doesn’t mean a person is now a monster who kills all the time. Even if she doesn’t think Vampire School is the greatest thing evah, she at least should have the mindset of, “Well, I’m able to escape my family! Excellent!”





Tired Metaphor - 11
Sledgehammer Of Symbolism - 0
Miss Judgmental - 36
As Paris In The Spring - 0
Stereotypes Mambo - 16
Procrastinators Unite Tomorrow - 2
SUBTLE FORESHADOWING - 1
Smells Like Teen Spirit - 4
Vampire Elitist Snobs - 2
All The Beautiful People - 1
Interfaith Smoothie - 0
AU Doesn’t Work Like That - 5
Speshul Snowflake: 0
My Deus Ex Machina Senses Are Tingling: 0
Let's Have A Ho-Down: 1


(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-14 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] legal-assasin.livejournal.com
Now I want to rewatch Freaky Friday. It was flawed, but it had a great message (never assume someone's life is easy or that the things that go wrong in it is their fault) and the two lead actresses did a great job.

It just feels like the Casts threw in the abusive relationship just to make the family awful so that Zoey would have an excuse not to deal with them. Which feels weak and insulting.

The good part about all the lost potential in these books is that I get ideas for my own books.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-14 04:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zelda-queen.livejournal.com
"Now I want to rewatch Freaky Friday. It was flawed, but it had a great message (never assume someone's life is easy or that the things that go wrong in it is their fault) and the two lead actresses did a great job."

Oh yeah! I still prefer the book (Book!Anabelle doesn't come across as QUITE so grating and the stuff she deals with, while a little old-fashioned, ends up being genuinely scary. Like, at one point, she thinks someone kidnapped her little brother), but I thought Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsey Lohan did a great job with each other's mannerisms. And I did like that it showed that both sides had SOME valid reasons to think the other didn't get it, even if they both also had stuff to learn for themselves.

"It just feels like the Casts threw in the abusive relationship just to make the family awful so that Zoey would have an excuse not to deal with them. Which feels weak and insulting."

Doubly so considering how Zoey's mother is treated. Heifer himself hardly matters at all in the series. Her mother is constantly shat on as a terrible parent, like she WANTS to be emotionally abused.

And agreed. This could have been so good.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-14 08:17 pm (UTC)
carmyn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] carmyn
The whole thing with the situation with Zoey's mom is that everyone, from the Casts to the characters to the fans, really sound like massive victim blamers. (Assuming the abuse is true and not just Zoey being melodramatic, which is an entirely different can of worms.) Yes, it's totally her mom's fault she is being abused! I mean, she actually totally fell for a bait and switch trap and maybe stays because she actually believes in her wedding vows to the letter, or you know, she was ABUSED AND BRAINWASHED but hey, let's blame the abuse victim because that's the right thing to do.

And hey, Zoey, if you don't like your home life so much then why didn't you go live with your grandmother? She can't be that far because you visit her before going to the HoN IIRC and you are kind of on a time restraint. Why did you never attempt to leave—or even run away—if your step-dad was such a controlling jackass? 'Cause, kids in shitty situations tend to do that.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-14 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zelda-queen.livejournal.com
It gets even worse in Chosen, when Grandma Redbird - the woman who is held up as a paragon of love and kindness and virtue - flat-out tells Zoey's mom (her DAUGHTER) that she was too weak-willed to make her own decisions without a man telling her what to do.

I could understand why Zoey is unable to live elswhere. She's still legally under the guardianship of her parents and her stepfather, as we'll see, hates her grandmother, so it wouldn't be a stretch that he wouldn't let her leave, if only to put on a show of being in control.

(For a very creepy real-life example, Fred Phelps actually kidnapped his own children when they tried to escape him before they were 18. His oldest sons had to make a run for it in the night when they were legally adults. One of his daughters only escaped because her boyfriend was in the military and wasn't going to let anyone kidnap his girlfriend).

It would help if we got some mention of it, even if she said how she tried to spend weekends with her grandmother and her stepfather dragged her back. At the very least, it'd be a legitimate example of abuse and not whiny entitled teenager complaining.

I really think this is why, in terms of abusive fathers, Neferet's backstory comes across as infinitely more sympathetic. Not only do we see her going through far worse than what Zoey does, but we see her having to actually be clever in a desperate attempt to protect herself and escape her father.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-19 02:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] star-dragon5.livejournal.com
Yeah, Neferet's backstory may be a cliché, but she's far more sympathetic than Zoey.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-15 01:51 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"I would bet my cool new Steve Madden flats that it irritated God as much as it annoyed me."

Oh great. Brand dropping this blatant in fiction is a sure way sign of something hilaribad or cringeworthy coming ahead...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-15 09:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zelda-queen.livejournal.com
Yeah, get used to that. The story can't seem to go for more than three sentences without brand dropping or referencing something from pop culture.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-16 06:55 pm (UTC)
stormswift: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stormswift
But y'know, Zoey hates her shallow, materialistic sister and how her stepdad insists on a superficial display of comfort and wealth. What losers.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-15 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] akkakieron.livejournal.com
It's hard to take this chapter seriously when the step-father is such a strawman. It unintentionally sucks out whatever point the Casts wanted to make. So many things that could've been done, and they chose the lazy way 'cause showing John being awful is hard. Makes it easy I guess.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-15 09:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zelda-queen.livejournal.com
It really does. It's like watching from the opposite side of a Jack Chick tract or something.

Sorry for the long-ass comment

Date: 2015-06-16 03:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lang-ea.livejournal.com
And for that matter, he fakes being a good husband and father. Tell me, how does he do that? One could argue he does it for the siblings by letting them do whatever they want, but we already pointed out how that makes zero sense. Not to mention, we see no evidence that he tries the same with Zoey. It would just take one line to have her mention that he tried bribing her into good behavior and resented her when she saw through it, but we get none of that.

It is very irk-some, because PC was a teacher and she must've taught a few kids who had issues at home (and instead of making a woefully dumb and shallow portrayal of Zoey's problems, why not just SHOW them?!). I can *kinda* see Zoey resenting her siblings because they might be shallow and into violence and meaningless sex--but they manage to hide it by appearing competent, getting good grades and overshadowing Zoey with their success in school.

Favoritism in families happen, but it's often because of a specific reason (whether Zoey was the oldest and her stepdad couldn't get along with her except with younger kids (or vice versa, stepdad was able to get along with older stepkids swimmingly, but he may have met Zoey when she was really young and thought of her as a dirty and rude kid that needs disciplining). Or that Zoey's siblings ARE the biological kids of her stepdad, so he favors them because he's more emotionally invested on their upbringing and thinks he knows how to parent them right compared to Zoey his step-daughter, etc).

Like, I've known people who even remarried guys who didn't know they HATED kids until it was too late. Like, my dad's stepdad found kids 'too stupid and nasty' but loves his estranged son unconditionally (whom he wasn't even there to raise for the majority of his life--so there was no embarrassing/frustrating moments he went through in raising his biological son (or even seeing him at his worst) because he wasn't even there when his son needed guidance and discipline). So he hated his stepsons and constantly brought up the failures that my dad and his brothers made AS KIDS, while not realising that kids just aren't perfect.

All PC and Kristin had to do is to pick one logical reason, stick with it, and avoid name-dropping brands or making eyeroll-worthy insults. It's really not difficult, especially when I've read fanfics written by *teenagers* pulling it off.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-16 08:51 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Ya' know, reading that entire comment from HoN wiki, it seems to me like the actual intent was "I disliked Zoey's mom even more [than I otherwise would have] because she let John control her." Still awful though...

(no subject)

Date: 2015-06-17 03:19 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nawsome.livejournal.com
Casts need to take a giant chill pill before they start writing.

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